adjective ab·stract \ab-ˈstrakt, ˈab-ˌ\

: relating to or involving general ideas or qualities rather than specific people, objects, or actions

of art : expressing ideas and emotions by using elements such as colors and lines without attempting to create a realistic picture

Full Definition of ABSTRACT

a :  disassociated from any specific instance <an abstract entity>
b :  difficult to understand :  abstruse <abstract problems>
c :  insufficiently factual :  formal <possessed only an abstract right>
:  expressing a quality apart from an object <the word poem is concrete, poetry is abstract>
a :  dealing with a subject in its abstract aspects :  theoretical <abstract science>
b :  impersonal, detached <the abstract compassion of a surgeon — Time>
:  having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content <abstract painting>
ab·stract·ly \ab-ˈstrak(t)-lē, ˈab-ˌ\ adverb
ab·stract·ness \ab-ˈstrak(t)-nəs, ˈab-ˌ\ noun

Examples of ABSTRACT

  1. abstract ideas such as love and hate
  2. Honesty is an abstract word.
  3. The word poem is concrete, the word poetry is abstract.
  4. It is true that the atrocities that were known remained abstract and remote, rarely acquiring the status of knee-buckling knowledge among ordinary Americans. Because the savagery of genocide so defies our everyday experience, many of us failed to wrap our minds around it. —Samantha Power, New York Times Book Review, 14 Mar. 2002

Origin of ABSTRACT

Medieval Latin abstractus, from Latin, past participle of abstrahere to drag away, from abs-, ab- + trahere to pull, draw
First Known Use: 14th century


noun ab·stract \ˈab-ˌstrakt, in sense 2 also ab-ˈ\

: a brief written statement of the main points or facts in a longer report, speech, etc.

: an abstract work of art (such as a painting)

Full Definition of ABSTRACT

:  a summary of points (as of a writing) usually presented in skeletal form; also :  something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger thing or several things
:  an abstract thing or state (see 1abstract)
:  abstraction 4a

Examples of ABSTRACT

  1. an artist admired for his abstracts
  2. <the scientist wrote a bare-bones abstract of his research and conclusions>

Origin of ABSTRACT

Middle English, from Latin abstractus (see 1abstract)
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Fine Arts Terms

Gothic, baroque, bas-relief, limn, oeuvre, pastiche, rococo, sfumato


verb ab·stract \ab-ˈstrakt, ˈab-ˌ, in sense 3 usually ˈab-ˌ\

: to make a summary of the main parts of (a report, speech, etc.) : to make an abstract of (something)

: to obtain or remove (something) from a source

: to steal (something)

Full Definition of ABSTRACT

transitive verb
:  to consider apart from application to or association with a particular instance
:  to make a summary or abstract of :  summarize
:  to draw away the attention of
:  steal, purloin
intransitive verb
:  to make an abstraction
ab·stract·able \-ˈstrak-tə-bəl, -ˌstrak-\ adjective
ab·strac·tor or ab·stract·er \-tər\ noun

Examples of ABSTRACT

  1. Data for the study was abstracted from hospital records.
  2. <personal problems abstracted him so persistently that he struggled to keep his mind on his work>
  3. … artists in the group put the emphasis on geometric abstraction rather than images abstracted from nature. —Robert Atkins, Art Spoke, 1993

Origin of ABSTRACT

(see 1abstract)
First Known Use: 1542

Related to ABSTRACT


Next Word in the Dictionary: abstractaPrevious Word in the Dictionary: abstrAll Words Near: abstract
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